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Formal training in risk assessment and LMO monitoring by academic institutions [#797]
Risk assessment and post-release monitoring of LMOs are highly technical fields. They require in-depth scientific and technical knowledge and skills. The experts carrying a risk assessment, for example, must be able to assemble, review and appropriately interpret relevant data in order to identify potential adverse effects of an LMO, evaluate the likelihood and potential consequences of those effects and estimate the overall risk. Currently, many countries currently lack trained personnel in risk assessment and LMO monitoring. A number of seminar and workshops on risk assessment have been organised in different countries. However, it is clear that such short-term training activities are not adequate to develop the required expertise. 

There is an urgent need to promote and support formal long-term training by academic and other relevant institutions in order to produce expertise with rigorous background in the theory and practice of risk assessment and LMO monitoring. To achieve this, it is important for Governments to collaborate with, and encourage, relevant academic to develop and/or expand graduate academic programmes on biosafety, including specific modules on risk assessment and LMO monitoring, and/or design targeted continuing education courses that would orient and train practicing scientists and other relevant professionals in risk assessment. It is also important for academic institutions to review and adapt their existing programmes to address the practical needs of countries, particularly in the area of risk assessment and monitoring of LMOs.

The Second International Meeting of Academic Institutions and Organizations Involved in Biosafety Education and Training, which was held in April 2007 in Kuala Lumpur (http://www.cbd.int/doc/?meeting=BETAIO-02) identified a number of possible strategies for promoting academic training programmes on biosafety. Effort should be made to mobilise resources to pursue the recommendations made by that meeting.  

There are a few initiatives underway to promote formal training in biosafety. Examples given in this discussion include the Asian Biosafety Education Network (ABEN): http://www.aben.ait.ac.th/, mentioned by Dr. Kazuo Watanabe and the BiosafeTrain initiative (http://www.biosafetrain.org) mentioned by Dr. Gabor Lövei. It would be useful to hear about other similar initiatives.
posted on 2008-11-24 14:09 UTC by Dr. Hartmut Meyer, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH